Guide dog saves trainers from out-of-control car

Posted: 06/13/13 at 9:05 am EDT      Last Updated: 06/13/13 at 9:55 am EDT

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (CNN/KTVU) -- A guide dog in training and his handler were being praised Tuesday for their quick reaction that helped save lives during a frightening accident on the streets of San Rafael that was caught on tape a day earlier.

The incident happened on Fourth Street near E Monday morning when a car jumped onto the sidewalk after knocking out a parking meter.

The vehicle plowed along the sidewalk, smashing an office building window and skidding alongside a building before shooting through an intersection.

Surveillance video showed all that damage as well as how the car almost took out a guide dog and its handlers.

The video from Monday morning reveals how Guide Dogs for the Blind trainer Todd Jurek and his dog O'Neill both heard the car behind them as it jumped the sidewalk and headed their way.

"He kind of alerted me that there was something pretty bad happening behind us," remembered Jurek.

Jurek said O'Neill, an 18-month-old yellow lab, was on his final field test when he suddenly turned around.

"He reacted probably two seconds before I did," explained Jurek. "He turned around saw it, then I turned around saw it."

Jurek said when he saw the car barreling toward him and his colleagues -- including the woman who was blindfolded as part of the training -- he instinctively pushed them out of the way.

"The worst could have happened. And just where we were positioned and how it happened, it's pretty incredible nobody got hurt," said Jurek.

Louis Fernandez saw it all from across the street.

"They were so lucky not to get hit, 'cause if somebody got hit, they probably got killed," said Fernandez.

After narrowly missing the guide dog group, the car came to rest across the street, its tires still burning rubber.

Police said the driver was a 93-year-old woman who appears to have had a major parking mishap.

"Her driving abilities are in question, so more than likely we'll be asking that she be re-examined by the department of motor vehicles," said San Rafael Police spokeswoman Margot Rohrbacher. "It really was a miracle that nobody was injured."

No doubt Jurek's quick action saved potential injuries or even death, but he credited O'Neill as well.

"He kind of turned around and was in this mode of 'We got to do something!'" said Jurek. "He was going to do something, but then I interacted."

Jurek told KTVU O'Neill passed his field training test with flying colors and will likely be graduating in two or three weeks before being matched with a blind client.

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